Delta Air Lines may yet see a lower level of involuntary layoffs than it had thought. The airline, which sent buyout and early retirement offers to most of its workforce of 90,000, has reportedly had a very positive response, with around 15,000 thought to have applied for such packages.
Delta may avoid involuntary furloughs
Delta Air Lines has warned that furloughs may become necessary as the airline seeks to right-size its operations for the post-COVID environment. While as many as 2,500 pilots were known to be at risk, the precise numbers for other roles such as cabin crew and ground staff had not been revealed.
Now, however, it seems involuntary furloughs could be avoided, as the airline has had a very positive response to its offers of early retirements and buyouts. Such offers were sent to most of its workforce of 90,000, and so far, more than 15,000 employees have volunteered for the packages.
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As reported in Reuters, sources close to Delta have indicated a huge uptake of the buyout packages ahead of the end of the CARES Act expiration on October 1st. Airline workers around the US have been fearful of mass layoffs come the fall, when the ban on involuntary furloughs comes to an end.
The deadline for most Delta employees to volunteer for these layoff packages was Monday. The airline is yet to release official figures on the response but is likely to do so as part of its second-quarter results call later today.
Voluntary leavers can often be more valuable in terms of job preservation, as involuntary layoffs are required under labor contracts to start at the bottom. If some of Delta’s more senior employees are willing to step down voluntarily, the total number of exits could well end up being lower.
Other US airlines are not looking so rosy
Job security at other US airlines is not looking good. United Airlines recently confirmed that 36,000 jobs could be at risk in October. While a tentative agreement with its pilots union has been brokered for voluntary movements, this only accounts for around 2,200 of the thousands who have received WARN notices in the past week.
Southwest Airlines is reported today to be considering its first-ever round of involuntary layoffs. The airline is keen to secure voluntary cooperation from employees and has given workers until July 15th to apply for early exits on this basis.
American Airlines too has said it has around 20,000 employees too many on its books. It is gearing up to issue WARN notices to thousands of workers by the end of this week. Allegiant has already cut its workforce by 220.
WARN Act notices are Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications and are required by law to be issued to employees who may be at risk of mass layoffs and plant closures. They must be sent at least 60 calendar days before jobs are affected. Not everyone who is issued with a notice will go on to lose their job, however.
While the CARES Act served to keep airlines flying through the worst crisis in history, the October 1st lifting of the layoff ban is looming large over the US aviation industry. With a couple more weeks to go until the 60-day threshold for WARN notices is reached, we may yet see more jobs put at risk before this is over.